Keaau High School’s Pihana Na Mamo Program believes in giving back to their school and to their community.
On Monday advisors Elpidio Calip and Jonathan Peralto held the unveiling of their four week summer program to dozens of people in the community.
Calip and Peralto took a 12 of their summer programs incoming sophomores and had them create an 8’x32’ wall mural in Building E.
The dozen youngsters involved in the Cougar summer school program decided to do something special during the summer and on Monday unveiled a culturally creative wall mural.
Special advisors were brought in to help oversee the project which included Sonja Caldwell, Pauline Stamsos-Correa, Bonnie Kim and Kathleen Kam.
Kam, who served as the project coordinator and consultant for the program was extremely pleased with the outcome.
“We took the basic idea of taking each student into account in creating this mural,” Kam said. “The talent they had was apparent when I first saw their sketches early on. I saw their potential and facilitated them during their discovery on what they wanted to create.”
Kam is experienced in mural design as she also helped Keaau create an earlier mural set directly onto concrete in Building G. “The last touch up went on this wall at 10 o’clock this morning and I am very pleased with the outcome,” she said.
For the Building E mural the group used eight 4’x8’ sheets of plywood which were plastered together and hung onto the wall.
Each of the 12 students then created a silhouette of themselves in a story pattern into the mural. The outcome was a breathtaking relationship between the land and sea created within the Hawaiian culture.
“We spent two weeks looking for inspiration for this mural,” student/artist, Deann Thornton said. “We went on field trips to Imiloa, the Lyman Museum, the Tsunami Center and Hawaii Volcano National Park to find that inspiration.”
Kanani Johnson, a recent Keaau graduate, was the only non-freshmen, invited to paint on the wall by head advisor Calip.
“Mr. Calip called me and asked if I wanted to come down and help create this mural,” Johnson said. “I’ve always enjoyed Pihana (Na Mamo) and Mr. Calip helped me out a lot and I wanted to help him.”
Johnson’s role was to help paint some of the plants and flowers pictured in the mural. The rest of the mural was created by all 12 incoming sophomores who include, Thornton, sisters Pikake and Pakalana Kaneta-Nobriga, Alea Blaisdell, Cassidy Ramos-Fujimoto, Rosilyn Handy, Maleia Ahchin-Kahakai, RJ Mercado, Annalisa Blas, Malina Johnson, Tia Ohigashi-Silva, and Tabytha Kahihikolo-Yamashita.
“We still need to put varnish on the wall so that it can’t be ruined,” Calip said. During the unveiling Calip also announced that funding for the Pihana Na Mamo program had run out and that the program, statewide would stop.
The budget ax reared its ugly head and has caused the decade old Pihana Na Mamo Program to shut down state wide, according to Calip.
“We knew this was coming as OHA (Office of Hawaiian Affairs) and the Department of Education ran out of the necessary money to fund us,” he said.
Undaunted by the bad news Calip continued to advise the final summer class of 12 students in a variety of community enrichment activities.
“We did a project in Waipio Valley and another at the Liliuokalani Children’s Center in Kona,” he said. “Now we’re doing a culminating activity for the school as our students painted a wall mural on Building E.”
“Each of the 12 students was given a section of the wall to leave their legacy to the program as we wanted to do something good for Keaau School,” Calip said.
“This area of the campus was hit with graffiti that left a negative statement, but we wanted to produce something that would provide a positive benefit to the school,” Calip said.
Pihana Na Mamo means “Gathering of Special Children” and its mission was to deliver educational services to children and youth of Hawaiian ancestry.
Calip was instrumental in choosing the 20 incoming freshmen that joined his school group during the 2008-09 academic years and from that initial group 12 decided to stay during summer session and create the mural.
Over the years the Pihana Na Mamo program at Keaau and throughout the state worked to promote positive and varied activities that are rooted in the Hawaiian culture so that the students would learn to become contributing members of society.
The mural in E Building at Keaau High School has now come to symbolize the last effort of a once thriving program at Keaau and throughout the state.